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    Supporting physiotherapy learners in practice settings: a mixed methods evaluation of experiences of physiotherapy educators

    O'Connor, Deborah A, Baird, Tamsin, Jack, Kirsten ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8560-9418, Wilkinson, Ryan G, Chambers, Alison and Hamshire, Claire (2023) Supporting physiotherapy learners in practice settings: a mixed methods evaluation of experiences of physiotherapy educators. Physiotherapy Theory and Practice: an international journal of physical therapy. pp. 1-14. ISSN 0959-3985

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    Abstract

    Background Practice-based education is an essential component of pre-registration physiotherapy programs, and there is a need for a contemporary review of practice-based educational experiences. Purpose The aim of this study was to explore physiotherapy practice educators’ experiences of supporting learners to inform considerations for future workforce development. Methods This was a mixed methods sequential explanatory study based in the United Kingdom (UK). Phase one of the study utilized an online survey disseminated via the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) professional networks. Phase two consisted of three semi-structured focus group interviews with participants who expressed an interest via completion of the online survey. All were registered or associate CSP members who actively support practice-based education. Results A total of 208 participants completed the online survey and a sub-set of 15 participated in online focus groups. Quantitative survey data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Initial thematic analysis of qualitative data from both phases was undertaken by one researcher. Subsequent analyses were carried out independently by the remaining research team, and comparisons were made to agree on codes, categories, and themes. The practice educator is vital in developing the future workforce (30%, n = 61, strongly agree). Identified challenges included supervising more than one learner (34%, n = 67 not at all experienced) and using technology to provide alternative placement models (45%, n = 87 not at all experienced). Conclusion Practice educators need accessible opportunities for professional development. Practice-based education should be embedded as an integral component of all staff roles. A team approach is essential to developing the future physiotherapy workforce.

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